Dr Tina Tanna opened her first practice, a one-chair NHS squat surgery in Chertsey, in 1998. She fondly recalls hurriedly getting prepared with the help of a Dental Directory business consultant and wondering if the Ikea shelves she had just painstakingly assembled for patient records would ever get filled.
Fast forward 20 years and not only did Dr Tanna fill those shelves, but she’s vastly expanded. Abbeymead Dental Centre is a thriving six-surgery practice with a team of 36 offering everything from general dentistry, oral surgery, periodontics, endodontics, hygiene, implants, cosmetic treatments and even acupuncture to calm anxious patients.
So, what’s the secret to Dr Tanna’s success? Focus on the things you’re passionate about.
A practice built on passion
One of the first things Dr Tanna tells me is how passionate she is about dentistry. And it becomes more apparent as our time together continues how true that is.
It’s a passion which also spills over into her team and can be felt in the reviews left by patients online. Five stars are the norm and patients rave about its first-class service, friendly atmosphere and the holistic approach.
“I have an exceptional team that I’m very proud of. We have a comments book in reception where patients can leave feedback. On those days we all get when we’re feeling a bit down it’s a pick me up to flick through the comments.”
Dedicated to prevention
Dr Tanna dedicates a lot of her own and her team’s time and energy to preventative dentistry.
The team is involved in a project which offers dental support to parents for their new born babies. Babies come into practice after their first couple of weeks. The team offers guidance to parents on what they should expect when the first teeth come through, what foods are good during weening and normalises dental check-ups from a very early age.
The practice is also heavily involved with local schools, Rainbows, Brownies and Guides to educate children and break down some of anxieties around a trip to the dentist.
And it’s not just the young that the team help. Recently they’ve become first dental responders for a new care home in the area and they’ve dedicated time to train the care home teams on how to care for the residents’ teeth and the risks associated with dentures not being cleaned or removed frequently.
“Care home staff are not typically trained in dental care, or how to care for patients with dentures, so we’ve been working closely with them to help them.
“Education is vital for all carers and patients, not just so we can reduce dental decay, but also so we can help prevent wider health issues, which can be spotted early during a check-up at the dentist such as mouth cancer and heart disease.”
Driven by innovation
Remaining on the cutting edge of the latest innovations in dentistry and holistic treatment is a passion for Dr Tanna and it’s one her patients appreciate.
“My aim was to build a practice that would enable me to offer everything a patient would need in one place. It’s something we’ve worked really hard to achieve.
“I wanted to always be on top of the latest innovations. We’re constantly investigating the latest materials to use, oral hygiene products to recommend and which holistic treatments would improve the patient experience.”
Two new treatments that have proved popular include the snoring device Dr Tanna has introduced, she adds: “It’s relationship saving” and a treatment to prevent grinding teeth.
She also has an impressive claim - the majority of her patients don’t have local anaesthetic.
“My patients trust me to do the right thing because I make sure they’re informed about all the options and choices available to them. The more a patient knows about the treatment available, whether NHS or private, the more empowered they are and that also includes appropriate holistic therapy too.”
A forward-thinking future
Before my time with Dr Tanna is up, I ask her what’s next for Abbeymead Dental Centre?
“I’ve always been passionate about providing good quality affordable Dental Care in a progressive modern environment and we will continue to do everything we can as a team to give patients the best possible care and experience.”